Scotland on Sunday’s Do Not Disturb - Grey eminence in the upmarket west end
Sitting on the site of the long-standing Simpson’s Hotel in Aberdeen’s upmarket west end, the Chester Hotel underwent a £5 million renovation, which was completed in 2014. Offering a luxurious four star retreat in the granite city, the hotel – which is made up of three chic granite villas that have been converted and linked together – provides guests with spacious rooms, a small bar area and an award-winning restaurant.
Budget or boutique?
Looking very much like a boutique hotel in design and decoration, the room prices reflect this, but won’t break the bank, with a night’s stay starting at £109 for bed and breakfast.
The hotel is now running a deal for two nights, dinner, bed and breakfast for £250.
The hotel’s listed 19th century granite exterior belies the space hidden within, which includes the 50 guest rooms and public spaces. Decorated in a rich, dark palette of black velvet and textured grey walls, the hotel has a decadent, masculine air – a bit like a modern-day gentlemen’s club. Thankfully there is no hint of any traditional twee touches that many Scottish hotels fall foul of, but instead there are nods to local artists in works throughout the hotel.
We stayed in the Rothesay Suite, which comprised a living area with feature fireplace and velvet armchairs and a sofa, a dining area, king-sized bedroom and modern, bright en-suite. Features included the 300-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets, smart TVs with Apple TV and Netflix (though the wifi was slow) and enough storage throughout the room to unpack for at least two weeks.
Wining and dining
The hotel is known for its AA Rosette-winning IX Restaurant. With a focus on locally sourced produce used to create simple, elegant dishes, the restaurant is understandably busy when we visit on a Friday night.
Both the bar area, with its mix of private booths and open seating, and the dining room are decorated in the same style as the hotel with velvet, grey and leather upholstery and feature lighting.
Not only can guests take a look at what’s on the wine list, thanks to the statement, lit-up wine fridge built into two walls, they can also see the chefs at work in the open kitchen.
Despite a slow start to the service, we enjoyed starters of a roast hand-dived Orkney scallop served with peas, bacon and a black pudding crumb and crab and scallop ravioli accompanied by fennel paste and a shellfish bisque.
For a main we plumped for the sharing Chester chateaubriand, which was served with steak chips, sautéed mushrooms, roasted shallots, fine beans, watercress and Béarnaise sauce. A shared dessert of peach Melba soufflé ended the meal nicely.
Worth getting out of bed for
The hotel is close to the west end’s independent shops and within a 15-minute walk of the hustle and bustle of Union Street, which is home to many shops, bars and visitor attractions.
The traditional architecture of Old Aberdeen is a must for anyone looking to see how the city has changed over the years. But if you want to get away from the city, Aberdeen Beach is an ideal spot, or try visiting the historic fishing settlement of Footdee.
Foodies will enjoy Aberdeen Restaurant Week, from 3-9 September. There are also many arts and cultural events, including the SPECTRA Festival of Light, the Aberdeen Jazz Festival, True North music festival and the Look Again visual arts festival.
The historical property exudes elegance throughout, from the guest rooms to the public areas, which all mirror the same contemporary design.
The snug bar area in the main building is a comfortable place to enjoy a pre or post-dinner drink, and there’s a fully equipped gym for the more fitness minded. In the our room, the Nespresso machine, shortbread and Noble Isle toiletries were all welcome additions.
The hotel is currently running a Living for the Weekend promotion, which is a two-night stay in a classic room, dinner in the IX Restaurant and bed and breakfast on both mornings for £250.
The Chester Hotel, 59-63 Queen’s Road, Aberdeen AB15 4YP (01224 327777, www.chester-hotel.com)